From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always loved school. Something about sitting in a classroom and learning something new makes me really excited. So much so that I eventually became a teacher myself — first, a yoga instructor, then, a middle school English teacher. Professional development, calligraphy workshops, business panels, weaving courses, social media conferences; I take every opportunity to pick up a new skill. When the latest cocktail class at Liberty House in Jersey City opened up, I couldn’t wait to add one more to my arsenal.
While I have a real appreciation for craft cocktails, I certainly can’t make a fancy one to save my life! Luckily, our teacher, Oliver, was excited to show us his ways. From an introduction to all the tools of the trade (the shaker, strainer, jig, etc.) to a detailed lesson for each cocktail, he didn’t skip a beat.
Though Liberty House has an extensive list of house cocktails, the class focused on the fall specials: a cranberry/apple Moscow Mule and a Hennessy-spiked Hot Toddy. Starting with the Mule, we learned the importance of measuring each ingredient carefully — the key to consistently tasty drinks.
The Moscow Mule is a traditional cocktail, and one that is a go-to for me, so I was happy to learn a few new tricks. Oliver took the time to show us how to properly muddle fruits (muddled apples were key for this signature drink) and the importance of pouring the ginger beer and cocktail ingredients at the same time (it maximizes the blending of flavors). After watching his run-through, I was first up — and boy did that cocktail taste delicious!
Between cocktail demonstrations, we were served a perfectly balanced meat-and-cheese platter. As we chatted and enjoyed our snacks, Oliver set us up for our final lesson.
A cold-weather favorite, the Hot Toddy has been around since 1786 — you may even have memories of your grandma sipping on one to ease a cold or to keep warm at the end of the night. Liberty House’s updated version of this classic cocktail calls for tea, a couple of cinnamon sticks, cloves and 2 ounces of Hennessy.
As the evening came to an end, we enjoyed our warm beverages with a view of the city skyline — arguably, one of the best in town. Outside, the bonfires were going and in the air there was a feeling that summer was coming to a close. Crisp fall nights are just around the corner; I can’t wait to enjoy them with a cocktail in hand!